To some, buses are just a way to get from A to B. For others, however, buses are opportunities. We’ve all heard of street food van vendors – but there are plenty of plucky entrepreneurs giving the humble bus a new identity and operating successful BUSinesses!
Fancy a go yourself? All it takes is the right combination of knowledge, funding and daring. Here are some of the best examples from around the UK and the world. Together with Stagecoach, we show you how these entrepreneurs sold more than just bus fares on their buses!
Fancy a snooze? Some plucky entrepreneurs have transformed buses into hotels, such as East Yorkshire businessman, Oliver Kemp, who has created BEDROAM – a functional mobile hotel for use at events such as festivals. The bus features 18 luxury sleeping pods, two bathrooms and an outdoor space.
Oliver spent a reported £60,000 on the transformation project, and his work has since been featured on the television show Amazing Spaces. Proof that with a bit of ingenuity, you can turn space-saving ideas into mobile business success!
Over on the other side of the world, an Australian entrepreneur converted a bus into a homeless sleeping shelter. These ‘sleepbuses’ are designed to shelter rough sleepers overnight.
Fed up of high street retailing? Move where the people are by building your own shop on a bus. That’s what Lesley Tindle did, transforming an old Fiat Ducato community bus into a mini boutique.
By incorporating electronic pods where seating used to be, the bus can expand to display stock when it arrives at events and festivals across the UK. This idea shows the versatility of buses, allowing an owner to easily transport stock and sell it directly from their bus.
There are no limits when it comes to bus conversions – it’s all about the application. What does the bus need to do? In some areas of the country, just having an area to focus on work can be costly as offices, hot desks and co-working spaces increase in price.
To address this, Rishi Chowdhury converted a double decker bus into ‘IncuBus’, a business incubator that cost the price of a busfare to use. The bus itself cost around £12,000 and the conversion cost up to £30,000 – but the vehicle acted as the IncuBus office space, hosting up to five startups at any one time. It’s proof that an innovative idea can work well, if you’ve got the business sense to try it.
Nobody should ever drink and drive – but a bus does make for a great bar conversion, thanks to the skilful ideas of entrepreneurs around the country. One bus, christened Leyla, is the result of a 1966 Leyland Titan being renovated by owners David Humphreys and Alex Robinson. They spent around £60,000 converting it into a fully equipped bar, complete with a lounge area upstairs. Run as a private hire event attraction, this is just one example of a bar renovation.
In Russia, one entrepreneur has expanded the experience – creating a VIP party bus which is paid for per person, per night, driving around the city serving drinks and allowing revellers to dance. Where some party busses in the UK are designed to get revellers from one location to another, Alexander Berest’s party bus is meant to be the destination.
Creating your own bar bus business is a matter of finding the correct bus, paying for the cost of conversion, installation and the personal licence fee you’ll need to serve alcohol in the UK. You’ll also need to pay concession costs for events you attend, which can be pricey.
Slightly tamer than a bar bus, serving meals from a converted bus takes a popular street food idea (mobile food vans) into the extreme. There have been a number of bus restaurant conversions in the UK – though one of the most popular is the Crust Conductor, which serves pizzas in its 34 seater restaurant. As a mobile business, it can visit festivals and food events but is primarily housed in London.
If you want to run your own business, it’s worth considering a mobile workplace. Buses are traditionally used as transport vehicles – but as the future pushes innovation and conventions are challenged, it will come as no surprise to see more entrepreneurs stretching the limits of what can be achieved with a bus-borne business. However, with most people’s renovations costing upwards of £30,000, you’ll need plenty of investment behind you. Crowdfunding, anyone?